CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria continues to display an unorthodox way of doing business when it comes to his daily lineups. For example, on Sunday against right-handed starter Homer Bailey of the Cincinnati Reds, he has four lefties at the top of the Cubs order followed by four righties and then pitcher Carlos Villanueva.
Conventional thinking would have him splitting up the lefties and righties more in order to give the starting pitcher a different look and make it harder when the opposing manager goes to the bullpen.
“I don’t feel it puts me at too much of a disadvantage,” Renteria said before the game. “I’m trying to get as much advantage as I can early in the ballgame.”
So he wants his lefties batting as many times as possible against Bailey but what happens if Reds manager Bryan Price goes to a lefty reliever as the top of the order comes up?
“It depends who the lefties are on the other side of the bullpen,” Renteria explained. “How you feel that you can deal with those particular guys if they end up using them in particular situations.”
It sounds like Renteria would have confidence in his lefties if Price went to southpaws Sean Marshall or Manny Para. But in reality Renteria can always switch out lefties Ryan Sweeney, who’s batting second, and Nate Schierholtz, who’s batting fourth, for righties Justin Ruggiano and Junior Lake. Leadoff man Emilio Bonifacio is a switch-hitter and Anthony Rizzo plays against all pitchers so they wouldn’t be affected anyway.
The better question is if a player like Sweeney deserves to bat second over, say, Castro who’s a mainstay? Castro might be in a better RBI position in the order -- he leads the team with nine -- but if getting hitters more at-bats is his reasoning for stacking the top of the order than Castro should be there, not the .147 hitting Sweeney.
Between his quasi-platoons at four positions and his lineup construction Renteria is keeping things interesting in his very first month on the job -- and opening himself up for plenty of second guessing.
Rizzo OK: After leaving Saturday’s game with back spasms, first baseman Anthony Rizzo is in the lineup Sunday, batting third.
“Even last night it was more precautionary,” Renteria said. “He thought he would feel fine this morning and he came in and said he felt good.”
Mike Olt replaced Rizzo at first base late in Saturday’s victory and was working there Sunday morning with coaches. Olt also played first base extensively in spring training.
“The hardest thing is just knowing where to be in different situations,” Olt said.
Darwin Barney 2b